Saturday, November 10, 2007

Clues in a name

One research method that is often used when conducting family history research is evaluating the names of the children because they were often named after family members. Naming patterns have been documented for different periods of time and localities. One typical naming pattern is:

1st son - named after father's father
2nd son - named after mother's father
3rd son - named after father
4th son - named after father's oldest brother
5th son - named after mother's oldest brother
1st daughter - named after mother's mother
2nd daughter - named after father's mother
3rd daughter - named after mother
4th daughter - named after mother's oldest sister
5th daughter - named after father's oldest sister

(see for this naming tradition)

Maybe the names of Benjamin and Sarah's child hold clues to the names of Benjamin's parents and siblings. I will compare this naming pattern to the names of the Curtis children:

Cyrus Jerome was the first son. If he was named after his father's father, then we would expect that Benjamin's father was named either Cyrus or Jerome. What we know so far is that Sarah, the mother, had a brother named Cyrus William and he was the oldest son in his family.

Friend Charles was the second son. If he was named after his mother's father, his name would have been something along the line of William Fuller CARD. So the tradition or naming pattern doesn't hold true with this child. What we do know is that the mother Sarah had a brother named Charles who was the second son in the family and he died when he was 15 years old. We also know that there was another Curtis family living in the same locality where Benjamin and Sarah were married. The father of that family was Friend Curtis, who was born in 1797. We do not know if there is a relationship between Benjamin and this older man named Friend. (see the other blog post that discusses this possibility.

Sarah Ellenor was the first daughter. Both the mother and the grandmother were named Sarah, so the naming pattern holds true in this case. We do not know if Ellenor is a family name on Benjamin's side.

Oscar Benjamin was the third son. The naming pattern is partially affirmative because we would expect this child to be named after the father. In this case, the father's name is Benjamin Kingman, so the middle name for this child likely was the father's namesake. The name Oscar is not on Sarah's side of the family and we do not know if the name comes from Benjamin's side of the family.

Cora Belle was the second daughter. Based upon the naming customs, we would expect that she might be named after Benjamin's mother. Since Sarah doesn't have the name in her ancestry, we expect that someday we will find the name in Benjamin's genealogy. We also have records stating that Cora's name was Clara, so either of those names might appear in her father's ancestry.

George Leslie was the fourth son and would expect that he was named after Benjamin's oldest brother. Sarah does not have any family members that this name, so perhaps the naming customs will hold true and this name will be found among Benjamin's side of the family.

William Rushmer was the fifth son and the naming patterns state that this child is typically named after the mother's oldest brother. When looking at the genealogy we find that Sarah's oldest brother was named Cyrus William Card. So the naming pattern is true.

John J. was the sixth son in the family. The naming tradition for this child is that they are typically named after the father's second oldest brother. The name John does not appear in Sarah's family, so perhaps this will eventually be found to be true.

Mary Lavantia was the third daughter in the family. We would expect that she would be named after her mother. In this case, the naming custom holds true because Lavantia is the mother Sarah's middle name. It is also interesting to note that Sarah had a sister named Mary who was the third daughter in the CARD family.

DeWilton Emory was the seventh son in the family. Naming customs and patterns for this child are unknown. We do know that DeWilton is a family name on Sarah's side, because her third oldest brother was also named DeWilton.

In summary, when we find the names of Benjamin's parents and siblings, don't be too surprised if some of their names are: Jerome, George, Friend, Leslie, Rushmer, Oscar, John J., Emory, Ellenor, Cora, Clara, or Belle.

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